We have four free recitals for you to enjoy that are taking place in the 2018 Maldon Festival.
Vaughan Williams’s Songs of Travel
Sunday 24th June, 4pm, The Octagon at St Mary's Church, Maldon
Edwin Dizer, baritone
Alan Bullard, piano
Don Quichotte à Dulcinée Jacques Ibert (1890-1962)
Songs of Travel Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Don Quichotte à Dulcinée Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Vaughan Williams’s Songs of Travel cycle belongs to the first decade of the last century when his personal voice was emerging and the work marks a major achievement in his development. The poems are by Robert Louis Stevenson, and the songs were originally performed in a group of eight by Walter Creighton and Hamilton Harty at the Bechstein Hall, London, on 2 December 1904.
The Songs of Travel made a strong impression on audiences and musicians of the time; for instance, Arthur Bliss, nineteen years Vaughan Williams’s junior, who studied at Cambridge between 1910 and 1913, recalled in his autobiography As I Remember: ‘To us musicians in Cambridge Vaughan Williams was the magical name; his Songs of Travel were on all pianos’. In the context of the development of English song they are important too, for they reflect a significant advance from the parlour song to the art song which professional singers—such as the cycle’s dedicatee, the bass-baritone Plunket Greene—were encouraging composers to write.
There is no real narrative thread from one poem to the next, rather a set of different circumstances on which the poet comments. Significant too is the influence of folksong on several of the songs. Vaughan Williams collected his first folksong, ‘Bushes and Briars’, in December 1903 and the experience of finding the lovely traditional tunes is apparent in Songs of Travel.
Vaughan Williams spent three months studying with Ravel in 1908. The experience enabled him to break away from the “Teutonic stodge” that he had been taught by Stanford and Parry. It is appropriate, therefore, that Edwin also sings Ravel’s Don Quichotte songs; Ravel’s last composition.
The three songs of Don Quichotte à Dulcinée, poems by novelist Paul Morand, reflect the tenderly sincere and humorous moments of this well-known tale. The introductory quixotic song, “Chanson Romanesque,” uses a pleasant vocal melody for Don Quixote’s declaration of devotion to Dulcinea with a guitar-like accompaniment of the piano in a four-verse set of variations. “Chanson Epique” is the Knight’s humble prayer, for blessings and protection, to the Virgin and the saints, in which the piano is used in the style of a church organ with rhythm derived from the Basque zortzico. Its austere chant, near the end of the song, concludes with a peaceful “Amen.” The song cycle closes with “Chanson á boire,” a robust jota in triple time, suitable for the lively exaggerations and embellishments written for the song’s toast, “I drink to joy! Joy is the one aim for which I go straight...when I’ve drunk.” Through this song Ravel bids an inadvertent adieu to music, from then on he suffered from ataxia and aphasia which kept him from coherently completing musical ideas such as the opéra-ballet Morgiane and the opéra-oratorio Jeanne d’Arc.
Festival Choral Evensong
Sunday 1st July, 6pm, St Mary's Church.
The Choirs of St Mary’s and St Mary Magdalene, Richmond
Canticles in G Thomas Dunhill (1877-1946)
Ascribe unto the Lord Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876)
Thomas Dunhill was a professor of harmony at the Royal College of Music and, during his lifetime, was known as a prolific composer. He was extremely successful as a composer of songs, chamber music and opera. He also composed several major orchestral works. The canticles in G were first performed during the Great War in July 1918, in Westminster Abbey. Sadly, Dunhill’s music is somewhat out of fashion at present. This is a shame because his music is full of a lyricism that is, at times, reminiscent of Elgar and at others of Ivor Novello. He is overdue a revival.
S. S. Wesley is credited with having revived choral music in England, ensuring that its performance was of the highest possible standard (something that had not been the case, even in English cathedrals, beforehand). The opening of Wesley’s anthem is bold and authoritative, leading to one of the glories of English nineteenth-century church music at the words ‘Let the whole earth stand in awe of him’. Today the listener may well stand in awe of the composer’s brilliant harmonic control, all the more effective for being repeated a fourth lower. A quartet follows for four upper voices and then a fugato (‘As for the gods of the heathen’) interrupted by a description of the idols sung by the various sections of the choir. A sudden return to the home key of G major brings forth the triumphant chorus ‘As for our God, he is in heaven’. The final section ‘The Lord hath been mindful of us’ will send even the hardest of secular hearts on their way home humming any one of the fine selection of tunes.
The guest speaker at Choral Evensong will be Fr. Mark Lowther. Fr. Mark is vicar of Aldeburgh Parish Church. Before ordination, he worked for BBC Radio 3 and still occasionally broadcasts for them.
Matthew Foster, Organ Recital
Saturday 30th June, 1pm, All Saints Church, Maldon
finale from sonata 1 Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911)
benediction nuptiale Saint Saens (1835-1921)
Prelude and fugue E minor BWV 533 JS Bach (1685-1750)
le jardin suspendu Jehan Alain (1911-1940)
Marche Pontificale from Symphony 1 Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)
Matt’s organ career started in September 2016 when he was offered a scholarship at St Mary’s church, Maldon. Matt started studying the organ with Laurence Lyndon-Jones, assistant director of music at Chelmsford Cathedral and studies piano with Tim Carey.
Since then, Matt has had the opportunity to play for services in venues such as Chelmsford, Newcastle and Peterborough Cathedrals. Matt is going to be touring Germany with the choir of St Mary’s during the summer holidays, which will be his first time abroad with the choir. Matt is already in demand as a recitalist with performances booked for All Saints-Maldon, St Nicholas Cathedral-Newcastle and St Mary’s Church- Richmond in the coming months.
Matt plans to read music at university and to hold an organ scholarship for it’s duration with the aspiration to become a professional organist.
Matt is currently studying for his first year of A levels at King Edward VI Grammar school, Chelmsford and enjoys other hobbies such as gymnastics coaching and photography.
Chris Strange, Organ Recital
Saturday 7th July, 1pm, Maldon URC
Sonata 1 Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Allegro moderato e serioso, Adagio, Andante, Allegro assai vivace
Allein Gott in der Höhe J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
Elfes Joseph Bonnet (1884-1944)
Claire de Lune Siegfried Karg-Elert (1877-1933)
Toccata Marcel Lanquetuit (1894-1985)
Chris Strange, Organ
Originally commissioned as a set of voluntaries, Felix Mendelssohn wrote six sonatas for the organ which were published in 1845. The first sonata is a dramatic work in four movements which opens in an arresting and rhapsodic style. The full organ texture is suddenly broken with very quiet presentations of the chorale Was mein Gott will, das gescheh’ allzeit (What my God wants, may it always happen) one phrase at a time interrupted by sweeping and dramatic full organ passages. The second movement is a quiet and delicate Andante which allows the softer colours of the organ to contrast with one another. This is followed by a recitative, which again makes use of contrast between a solitary distant solo - almost like an off-stage orchestral instrument - and a grander sound. The final movement - a flowing toccata - bursts forth in F major, as though the light emerging from the darkness following the tumultuous preceding movements.
Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr (Alone to God on high be honour) is one of Bach’s great eighteen chorales, from a collection written in his final few years while in Leipzig. The chorale melody is presented in a quiet and delicate style in the tenor register with florid and canonic accompaniment above.
Joseph Bonnet was most famously organist at St Eustahce in Paris but spent a great deal of time in America teaching and performing. Elfes (Elves) is a short, light and fast flowing work. The German romantic composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert was a prolific composer and organist who’s harmonic language stretches from Bach to Schoenburg.
Clair de lune (Light of the moon) presents a relaxing, short work with rich harmonies making use of the quieter and ethereal colours of the organ.
The French toccata is a well known exciting genre within organ music and Marcel Lanquetuit’s is a fine example. The blazing and triumphant toccata opens with fast and exciting figures in the hands before the optimistic rising tune enters in the pedals. We hear here the full range of the instrument - from the roaring full swell enclosed in a box, to the glorious french tutti at the close.
Chris Strange is currently the organ Scholar at Chelmsford Cathedral. He will soon be taking up the position as assistant organist at York Minster.